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Baseball's Stretch Run -- The Hot Teams

   by Al McMordie - 08/22/2005

Folks holding future tickets in baseball purchased back in March can begin to take those folded up slips off the shelf and take a peak at them again. Labor Day is on the horizon, which begins the final stretch for regular season pennant races and division titles. What’s important to point out is that professional sports bettors who take long shots on future bets don’t always look for those teams to win and cash the ticket. Many times it’s for hedging purposes, to bet against that team to guarantee a profit.

For example, if you had a ticket last season on the Houston Astros to win the World Series, you could have hedged by betting against them in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Cardinals. If the Astros lost the game (which they did), you could still gain a profit as long as you wagered a little more than what the futures ticket was worth. And if the Astros won Game 7, you would lose money on that game, but still have your futures ticket alive for the World Series, which would have been in the 12-to-1 range. Two years ago in June, the Florida Marlins plummeted to 60-to-1 to win the World Series, then got hot and ended up winning the whole thing. This season has seen a similar turnaround by several teams.

Astros: If you believe pitching rules, then Houston has a shot to make some October waves again. After a rough start, the starting staff of Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt and Andy Pettitte have been lights-out and the Astros are currently second overall in the NL in ERA (3.58) behind the Cardinals. The offense does not dazzle in many offensive categories, except one which may surprise you: Houston is second in the NL in steals. Young speedsters Adam Everett and Willy Tavares lead an old-school, NL style of ball. Don’t laugh. It worked for the Marlins two years ago. Houston is one of two futures tickets that I currently hold -- at 40-1 odds.

Athletics: Oakland was the talk of the baseball world recently with their run for the ages. But before annointing them the AL pennant, let’s remember that baseball is a game of patience. And over the last week, Oakland is catching a few bad breaks, losing three in a row at home to Baltimore, followed by 2 mind-numbing losses to the Royals (as a favorite of over 3 dollars!) Is this a bump in the road, or a team that has peaked too soon? Don’t burn those Oakland futures tickets just yet -- but don’t think about cashing them just yet, either. (Oakland is the other futures ticket that I have -- at 30-1 odds.)

Marlins: Yes, here they come again. The most under-achieving team in baseball the first half of the season was certainly the Marlins, but Florida has suddenly come alive. The Marlins have gone on an impressive 20-12 second-half run to position themselves back into contention for the NL East and Wild Card. The stats on this team are very impressive: second in batting average, sixth in steals, fourth in pitching. This is a balanced team that is more likely to keep up the hot streak than to flame out. After all, they’ve done it before. Those with futures tickets on the Fish are dreaming of a repeat of the 2003 Marlins. Good luck as always...Al McMordie.

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